May 29, 2010

We Are HOME!!!

Traveling to China was an amazing journey.
There were some tough days,
but the days spent getting to know our son were priceless.

Both Ryan and I are head over heals for this little man.
Zac is a trooper of a traveler. We are both so proud of him.

We are all tired and having a hard time sleeping,
but I'll be back in a few days with many more pictures and
stories from our trip.

Gosh! It's good to be home...

From Guangzhou

This is a post I had sent from China, but it is still floating somewhere in cyberspace. It is summary of some of our days in China. I know it's long, but I wanted to write some things down because I am afraid this old brain of mine may forget some details of an amazing journey.

Hello from Guangzhou
We are in the final days of our trip! I know it has been a while since the last post and I’m sorry, but spending time with Zac is so much fun that the last thing I want to do is get on the computer. I know you all understand. I do know how hard it is to be waiting for updates, so I will try and get this one posted soon. So here goes a little back track up-date.

Thursday, May 20th
We took a ride out of Nanchang to a nearby village. What an experience that was. Our agency takes the group out to a village because it is thought that most of the babies come from the villages. They think they are brought to the city in hopes of being found sooner.

The people we met in the village were extremely friendly. It was one of the most interesting afternoons I’ve had here in China. We saw people working in the rice fields. Women were doing laundry in large bowls on the front step of their homes. A man was selling pieces of a hog for the evening dinner. He had the hog hanging on a pole and people would come up and he would cut off whatever they asked for. It was all so very interesting. It was like stepping back in time. I have some great pictures. I’ll post most of them when we get home.

Friday, May 21st
This was our last day in Nanchang. Since our plane didn’t leave until the late evening we were able to go on one more tour. First we went to the People’s Park. We loved the park. It was a beautiful place. There were people playing badminton, doing Tai Chi, and other types of activities. Even in the rain it was an enjoyable walk.

After the park we went to the porcelain market. Jiangxi Province is known for being a large producer of rice and for their porcelain. There were so many pieces that I wish I could have purchased, but I don’t know how I would have gotten them home. I did find a wonderful family chopstick set. There are baba, mama, and baby chopsticks in the set. Love it.

Once we got back to the hotel we had two hours to get our bags packed and out for the bellman. One of us also had to go up to a meeting to pick up the baby’s passport. I went up to the meeting while Ryan stayed in the room with Zac. Karen handed me the passport and I read Hong Min Yang, which is Zac’s given name. When I looked at the picture, my heart started beating 240! I looked up at Karen (one of the guides) and she must have noticed the problem at the same time. She came over and took Zac’s passport back.

The notary had mixed up Zac’s picture with Max -the other little boy in our group. Our passports were wrong! My heart sank. Evelyn (our guide) was wonderful. She got on the phone right away and started making calls. All three guides were on the phone trying to get the problem fixed. I was told to go back to our room and they would call as soon as they knew something.

Meanwhile, we had to be in the lobby by 3:00PM to leave for the airport. Our group is so large, there are 20 families in our group, and because of the large number of babies the airlines would not take that many babies at one time, so our group was divided into two planes. Our group was supposed to fly out at 6:30PM.

Ryan, Zac and I were in the lobby waiting to leave and for news about the passport. Finally Karen came back and told us that we could use his adoption documents to get to Guangzhou. We didn’t need the passport for that. She said that they will get us the passport. The notary is working on them and if they didn’t finish before we took off they would mail it to us. (Not my favorite solution, but what could we do?)

A few minutes later word spread that the first plane had been cancelled. The first group (our group) was told to go back to our rooms and wait. The only problem was that we had already checked out. The hotel had to give us all back a key, and we went back to our rooms.

While in our room CiCi (a guide) brought Zac’s new passport. It was perfect. She said that they aren’t used to two boys so they mixed them up. That doesn’t make sense to me. They didn’t mix up 18 little girls, but they mix up two boys?? Oh Well! I was happy to have his passport in my hands!

At 6:30 we were on the bus to the airport. Going through security was easier than we thought it would be, thank goodness. When we arrived at our gate second group still sitting there. That wasn’t a good sign! Without going into all the dreaded details I’ll just wrap up this day’s summary with it was a really long night in the airport: Zac took his first tumble off a chair and there were tears from both Zac and me, there were three ‘skirmishes’ where guards were called in, Zac was the last baby to fall asleep – not willingly, we didn’t board the plane until 1AM, and we didn’t get to the hotel until 4:00AM. It was a long, hot, smelly night that I have no desire to EVER repeat. I was never so glad to get out of an airport in my life!
What A Day!

Saturday, May 22nd
This morning we had to be at the medical clinic for Zac’s exam ~ if that is what you can call it. We arrived at the clinic and there are babies and parents every where. The clinic is only open on Saturday mornings. All adopted babies have to have the check-up before their paperwork can be processed at the consulate. It was WILD in that room.

There are three different rooms you have to take the babies through. They checked his hearing, by shaking a rattle. In the second room a man took his head measurement and then checked him over. I am not exactly sure what he was looking at. The third room they took Zac’s weight (he weighs 24.8 pounds), his height, and his temperature. That is it. They move each baby through as quickly as possible. Understandably since there are so many waiting to be seen.

That was all we did on Saturday. All three of us were so exhausted that we decided to hang around the hotel. After a nice long nap in the afternoon we went to Lucy’s for dinner. It was so good! Ryan and I have never had onion rings that tasted so good! :o)

Sunday, May 23rd
For the last couple of days Zac had been rather snotty and coughing. On Sunday morning he woke up sounding very croupy. We called one of our guides and told her that we needed to go to the clinic here in the hotel. I was worried because he started having lots of green gunk when he sneezed. I know that’s not a good sign. I was worried that if we waited too long to take care of this it would get worse.

It turned out that Zac had bronchitis. Even though he had been on an antibiotic to clear up his ear infection, it wasn’t strong enough to battle the bronchial infection. Thankfully the ear infection is gone, now we just need to get rid of the croupy cough, weepy eyes, and runny nose. I tell you, for a little guy who is sick he sure is a trooper. We have had to wake him up every morning and at every nap because we’ve had some place to be. He always wakes up and is ready to tackle the adventure. He isn’t cranky or crying. I hope this continues when we get home.

Due to Zac being sick Ryan and I skipped the tour on Sunday. I am a little sad that we didn’t get to go to the Buddhist Temple. I was looking forward to that. Getting Zac healthy is more important to us.

Monday, May 24th
This was a big day for us. After breakfast we had to wait in our rooms while the guides took all of our paperwork over to the US consulate. If there were any problems the guides would call us before 11:00AM. The amount of paperwork we did before coming to China and all the paperwork we did here in China all came down to this moment. We have been told several times that the US Consulate is very, very picky. That is every ‘i’ isn’t dotted and every ‘t’ crossed it could be trouble.

Thankfully we got a call about 10:30AM saying that we passed and all was good! YEAH!!! Now all we had to do was take our oath and wait for Zac’s visa.

At noon we all boarded a bus and headed to a pearl market. Oh! My Word!!! Six floors of nothing but jewelry, it was amazing. I wasn’t going to get anything since I had already bought a beautiful jade bracelet in Hong Kong, but it was my birthday so what the heck!! I got another bracelet. It’s gorgeous. Ryan says he is done for my birthday and Christmas this year. :o)

The best birthday present in the world is sleeping in a crib right behind me. We are starting to see a little more of Zac’s personality every day ~ and every day this little man steals more and more of my heart. He is just so amazing!

After the pearl market we went to McDonalds. That was an experience. We were the only Caucasians in the restaurant so to say we were stared at was an understatement. After all of the noodles and rice over the last several days I must say those were the best French fries I have ever eaten.

When we got back to the hotel a birthday cake was delivered to our room. It looks really amazing. We were going to cut it with some friends last night after dinner, but it was after 8:00PM when we got back to the hotel. We had three tired babies who all needed to get to bed, so we decided to celebrate after we get back from the Consulate on Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 25th
Today is the last duty we have for the adoption. We go this afternoon to take our oath at the US Consulate. After that all we have to do is wait for Zac’s visa and then the packing for home can begin.

Both boys are taking a nap now. We will be leaving in a couple of hours. I can’t wait.

I know this is a really long post. I have actually been working on it for three days, but couldn’t finish it. Now it is up-to-date. It will most likely be the last post until we get home. Neither Ryan or I are looking forward to the 24 hour journey to home, but we are looking forward to getting home.

Thank you to all of you who have sent emails, and posted on the blog. I can’t read blogs, but I can read your comments. It is so nice to get the words from home.

One more add-on: We left the hotel in Guangzhou at 7:30AM on May 27th. Zac was the BEST traveler!! We are so proud. He slept 10 out of the 12 hours on the long flight. He napped on the two short flights. He laughed and played when he wasn't having a snack. The only time he cried was on our last flight from Chicago to our home base airport. I couldn't blame him in the slightest. I was dog tired too!

We are so blessed to have this little boy in our lives. He was most definitely Worth the Wait!!

Zac LOVED the waterfall at the White Swan.
If we were seated near it during breakfast he had a hard time concentrating on food.

All of the babies in our group!

What are we doing here, Man?

Zac is all smiles ~ until you pull out a camera.

May 19, 2010

Hello From Nanchang!

We are officially Zachary’s parents. It has been an exhausting few days. I’ll try to give a quick recap of the last few days. I know most everyone just wants pictures so I have a few of those to add in as well.

Sunday ~ Zac Day!
What a wild day Sunday was! We flew from Hong Kong to Nanchang. When we were on the bus we were told that the babies would be coming to the hotel at 5:00PM. We were also told that we had to have a group meeting at 3:00PM.

That sure didn’t leave a lot of time. By the time we got to the hotel we had just enough time to go up to our room use the facilities and then get back down to the meeting. The meeting lasted until about 4:45. We only had enough time to get up to the room, grab the camera and cheerios, and get back downstairs.

When Ryan and I turned the corner to the meeting room we saw babies! Almost instantly we saw Zac. (He wasn’t hard to pick out.) During the meeting we were told what order we would receive the babies ~ Ryan and I were last. Well, suddenly that changed. When we walked in the room we were told to get ready. Everything happened so fast I don’t remember much. I do remember someone asking for our passports. I do remember Zac coming through the door in his nanny’s arms. I do remember someone saying “take him, take your baby.” I didn’t want to just tear him from the nanny. He was already so upset, but that is what I did.

Poor little guy cried and cried. Then Ryan took him and Zac settled a little bit. We walked away from the crowd to sit down. Zac didn’t care for me too much, but he would let me feed him Cheerios. I thought that would be hard for me, but it wasn’t. I am so thankful that Ryan was able to calm him. I love watching the two of them together.

Ryan and I snuck out of the crazy, noisy room a few minutes later. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see many of the others get their babies, but the more crying that went on the more stressed Zac seemed to get. We thought it best to get him to a quiet room. Once upstairs we made Zac a bottle. I was thankful he drank the entire bottle. He was out after that.

One of us had to get downstairs to complete some paperwork. It was obvious that Ryan should stay in the room. Zac fell asleep right before I had to leave, and even though they had asked for the ‘daddies’ to come down we both thought that if Zac woke up Ryan should be the one in the room.

After the paperwork was finished we all crashed.

Monday ~ Civil Affairs Office and Notary
We all had to be up, dressed, fed, and on the bus by 8:00AM the next day. Thankfully Ryan and I had a pretty good night sleep. Of course every time Zac moved a muscle or sneezed we were both peeking over the crib. He slept really well the first night. I think all the crying wore him out.

It is at the Civil Affairs office where we officially become Zachary’s parents. First we went in and took our first family picture. To be honest it isn’t too bad. I wish I could get a copy. We also had to have Zac’s picture taken for his passport. Then we met with an official who asked us several questions. Once we finished in her office Zac was all ours! I don’t know if they realize, but he was all ours the second they put him in my arms. I’m just saying…

The officials moved things along quickly. It didn’t seem like a terrible, horrible wait –BUT- what was terrible and horrible was the heat and humidity! Oh! Dear Lord!!! Everyone was dripping wet with sweat! They didn’t have the air conditioning on in the office. We were miserable. Ryan got so exhausted wallering around with Zac he asked me to hold him for a while. The interesting thing is, that once I held him for a few minutes he fell asleep. Thank heavens for the Ergo. There is no way I could have held him while he slept and stood in that line. He is just too heavy.

The last thing we did at the Civil Affairs office was meet with the SWI director. She was a very nice woman and she seemed to care for the babies. She said that Min Yang was very much loved. He was a favorite. I don’t doubt it. We learned a few other things, but that is for Min Yang in the future.

After the Civil Affairs office we had to go to the notary. Again we were asked some questions. We also had to promise to never abandon or abuse our son. After we did the notary official said, “You must be very lucky, only special people get boys.” That statement made me smile. I told him that we are very lucky to get such a special boy.

We were back to the hotel by 1:00. Later that afternoon we went to Wal-Mart. What an experience. That’s really about all I can say.

Tuesday ~ Rest Day!
Our agency did have a doctor come to the hotel in the morning. I was so thankful when I heard they were going to do that. I had a question about his belly button that looked so dark and about his eye that seemed to tear quite a bit.

The doctor seemed thorough. We were told that Zac has an ear infection and a sore throat. I was shocked. He never once acted like either bothered him. The eye is from the same ear and throat problem. He prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine for Zac. I was so grateful. Our guides had the meds filled and brought them to our room later that afternoon.

As for the bellybutton ~ in Nanchang they do not believe in washing the bellybutton until the child is three years old. It is thought that the baby will catch colds if they clean the belly button. Even though I have washed his bellybutton I think a years worth of dirt may take some time to get out. I did think that custom was quite interesting.

We had a group dinner on Tuesday night. It was a dim sum dinner here at the hotel. It was nice. After the meal our guides brought out a birthday cake. They wanted to celebrate all the babies’ new lives they will have with us. That was so sweet!

Wednesday ~ Pavilion Park
The group is going to Pavilion Park today. I didn’t take Zac. I didn’t want to take him out in the rain and humidity since he is sick. I want his ears to heal before we fly to Guangzhou on Friday. Ryan went on the tour. Zac is sleeping now that is why I have had time to write this novel. If you read it all ~ Wow! Thank you!! I really wanted to get at least the highlights down so I don’t forget.

I must say I feel so very fortunate to have this little boy in our lives. He is amazing. By the way, he has taken to me. I can now carry and hold him. We play and he giggles. What is interesting to me is when we are out of the room he still doesn’t talk much or giggle at all, he just watches. In the room with us he babbles up a storm and giggles like crazy.

Today he is coming out of his shell a little more. I think once he feels good we will see more and more of our little man.

May 17, 2010

First Pictures!

Here are few pictures for now. It has been an incredibly long and tiring day. We are all beat from the humidity. Even the HUGE Walmart here doesn't have air-conditioning. It was miserabley HOT!

Tomorrow after a visit with a doctor we have a much needed free day. I hope to write about our adventures then.

Both Big Bear and I are in love with Zac. He is a happy baby. He seems really quiet when we are out and about, but when we are in the room he laughs, smiles, and babbles, all while climbing all over Daddy!

Thank you all for all of the emails. I really appreciate them!

May 16, 2010

We have Zachary!

We have Zachary!

He is wonderful, perfect, happy BIG BOY!

Zac LOVES his Daddy!

They are playing right now.

I am ok, as long as I have Cheerios. :o)

I don't mind!

It's been a surreal day! We have to go down and do some paperwork in about 30 minutes. I will post more when I can. I know you all want to see the pictures. I'll send them out soon!

I'm going to play with my boys now....

May 12, 2010

One Chapter Ends... Another Begins

Today we begin the last chapter of our journey to parenthood.
Today we also begin a new chapter ~ a chapter where we finally become a family of three. Today Big Bear and I are leaving for Hong Kong. This is the beginning of a journey that will be exciting yet scary. A journey that will complete our dream of becoming parents; my dream to finally be a mom.

I cannot believe that after nearly eight years we are finally so very close to being parents. There have been hopes & dreams, red tape, hoops to jump, prayers, paper work, and tears ~ lots of tears. So many hours were spent wondering why? Sleepless nights trying to figure out what did I do wrong? So many times my heart has been broken. So many hours questioning why is it so hard for us and so easy for ~ what seemed like ~ everyone else.

Now we know this is why:

This little picture has made such a difference in our lives already. This little man has answered many of the ‘Whys?’. This lil’ man has shown me that God sure does have a plan. I may not have understood or have been very patient at times ~ most of the time ~ now though, everything seems to be falling perfectly into place. I am ashamed to admit that I lost faith, but I did. Thankfully because of my husband and some very good friends we continued to wait, even though I really wanted to quit. Goodness! The thought of that now, makes me teary. If we had quit we wouldn’t be traveling right now to get Zachary.

Now it is time to close this chapter. As hard as it was to go through this process, it was also a huge time of growth for me. I have learned so much about myself. I am much more confident in who I am and where I am going. I have learned how to "let it go, let it be free". I feel that I am a better person because of the journey that we have had to endure. I feel that all of this will help me be a better wife, friend, and most importantly a mom.

On to begin the next chapter!
Even though I am excited for what the next few days will bring, I am also scared to death. I know that we will be fulfilling our dream, but in order to do that we will be shattering Polar Cub’s world. In the blink of an eye the only world he has ever known will be ripped away from him. People that he knows will be handing him over to strange looking, funny smelling, weird sounding people. There will be cameras flashing, babies and new moms crying – maybe some dads, too. There will be lots of chatter and noise in a strange room, in a strange place. Then this strange looking couple will whisk him away to a hotel room, and the only world he has ever known will cease to exist for him.

This will be when Big Bear and I will have to step up and begin earning Zachary’s trust. We will slowly begin the process of building a bond, a relationship. We will have this little guy who will be scared. He will be grieving. He may not understand. He may feel lost. We will do everything in our power to begin earning his trust and hopefully ~in time~ his love.

Parenting every child is different. Parenting an internationally adopted child is different than parenting a biological child. Big Bear and I will be parenting a little differently so we can foster attachment. Many people will question, I am sure. Many will not understand why we are doing some of the things we will do. That is ok. I have suddenly gotten a very thick skin when it comes to this little guy. You many not agree with some of our choices, and I understand. You may offer advice and I will politely listen, but please don’t be offended if I don’t follow your advice. I have done a lot of reading and studying over the years. I have listened to people who have been there, and who continue to work on attachment issues even though they have been home for a year or more.

Big Bear and I will take Zac back as if he were a newborn. We will try to show him that he is not alone and that we are there to care for him, to meet his needs, to comfort. He will need to learn and feel he is safe. He will have all of his basic needs met by us when ~hopefully before~ he needs. Zac will need to learn that we are his parents. We are here for him now and always. For some children that is a very difficult process. We will follow his lead for each phase of this journey.

For a time Big Bear and I will be the only people who feed, change, and comfort Zac. He will need to trust us to meet those needs each and every time. Zac’s Maemae and Nannan (his grandmothers) will be the only other people in his life who can hold him for any length of time in the beginning. Zac will not be passed around. I am truly sorry if this hurts anyone’s feelings, but the needs of our son come first.

A few other things we will do to build attachment will be:
· Bottle feeding to work on touching and comfort
· Eye contact
· In the beginning we will not let him ‘cry it out’
· Keep highly stimulating environments to a minimum ~ especially at first.
· No television
· Listening, watching, and learning his cues to his needs
· Holding, carrying for extended periods of time, touching
· Time ‘ins’ instead of time ‘outs’

We will be doing all the things any new parents would do with a newborn. The difference, and the difficulty, will be Zac is older. All of this will take time. It will take patience, understanding, and consistency from both Big Bear and I. Both of us are committed to this and to our son. We are willing and ready to do all we can to help Zac.

Thank you for your understanding, love and patience while we try to figure this parenting gig out. I know we won’t be perfect. I know we’ll make mistakes, but I also know that we are going to do the best we can for our family ~ Our family of three.

Love to you all!

May 9, 2010

Polar Cub's Den

Another favorite, I forgot to show on the video, are the pull chains I found ~ two polar cubs.

May 8, 2010

The Bathroom Remodel

The second major project in April was the half-bath off of the kitchen. You may remember I mentioned a while back about the carpet the previous owners had put in that bathroom (SHIVER).

Thankfully the carpet is gone!! The purple walls are GONE!!! The ugly (no offense) light fixtures are history!! (Some may not like the lights we chose, and that's ok. We love them.) So without further rambling here is our new half-bath.

When we re-do the kitchen we will change the countertop in here, too.

Beautiful, Glorious easy to clean Tile!!
This makes me happy!

May 6, 2010

I Love My Students...

The last few weeks have been busy, but fun at school. Not a day has gone by that I haven't been asked about Polar Cub.

The other day one of my seniors came in my room a bit upset. She said, "Miss Bear what happens if China calls and tells you to come tomorrow? You will come back and tell me good-bye won't you?" How sweet?!

Yesterday I told my classes that Friday will be my last day. I couldn't believe how hard some of them took the news. I have been trying to prepare them for my leave for a year. My students don't do well with change. That was one of the reasons I've waited as long as possible to tell them I am leaving. I still wasn't expecting the mixed bag of emotions I received.

On the one hand they are quite excited, but on the other they don't want a substitute. I have one student who went on and on about me not being here. He didn't want me to go. He thinks I should wait until we get out of school for the summer and then go to China. His little tantrum made me smile. We have had our struggles all year, but as I told him yesterday ~ after seeing his reaction ~ I know that he really likes me deep down inside. When I told him that all he could do was stop and smile.

I love my students!

May 4, 2010

The Deck

Since I talked about all the tasks we've been working on around here I thought I would show a few pictures of our completed projects. The first project we finished is the deck. We have needed a new deck for years. It wasn't until the guys were taking down the old deck did we realize just how bad we needed a new deck.

The carpenter couldn't believe that the deck was even standing. The old posts were NOT cemented into the ground, they were only two inches in the dirt. The floor of the old deck was only nailed to the house with a few wood nails. We are so lucky that the deck hadn't fallen when we had a lot of people out there.

The old deck did fall when they were taking it apart. I was upstairs when suddenly I heard a loud "BAM!!" Followed by, "OH! SH!T!!!"

I was too nervous to look, but no one was crying out so I figured all was ok. Later that night Carl, the contractor, told us that they took a nail out of the railing and the post fell. Thankfully no one was standing on the deck.

Now we have a well built, beautiful deck. This baby isn't going any where. We love it!!!

View from the yard.

We extended the cement pad under the deck for the dogs.

The stairs ~ I LOVE that this deck has a gate.
That was the only thing I asked for when we were planning the deck.

Tucker and Bailey - so darn cute!!

View to the right~
We want to look for some outdoor furniture for this end, but we've been a bit busy.

View to the left, but the best view will be...

...when Polar Cub is out there playing!